In an Instant the Happy Shouting was Changed to Cries and Shrieks for Help From Beneath the Shattered Cars

This week’s Civil War soldier’s story comes from Kevin Walker. Kevin is a scholar who is most comfortable in small rural towns with people with old time values.

His family research is documented on his blog: Who We Were, Are & Will Be Our Family. Kevin describes his writings as “Obtuse genealogical studies into the Walker-Casattas family tree. This also includes the surnames of Chelsey, Needham, Gibson, Surpluss, Frank, Molfino, Mack (Mach) and Derfler, among many others.”

Kevin’s Civil War ancestor is his great great grandfather Henry Martin Walker, Sr. Henry’s story ends tragically and is certainly one to honor today on Civil War Saturday.

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001 Telephone: 1-86-NARA-NARA or 1-866-272-6272

The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001

In January of 1865, in Springfield, Illinois, Henry Martin Walker enlisted in Company A, 33rd Regimental Infantry, Illinois Volunteers, Union Army. He was dead six weeks later due to a tragic accident.

Henry probably enlisted at the behest of his brother-in-law Harvey Dutton who was the Captain in charge of this particular company. The consensus at the time was the war was winding down, and this was a chance for Henry to come in at the end of the fight and qualify for benefits.

In those early months of 1865, the 33rd Illinois was stationed along the Opelousas Railroad outside of New Orleans to prevent guerrilla attacks and keep supply lines open. This was all swamp, and illness took its toll on the men. By the end of the war, all totaled the regiment suffered many more deaths by disease than they did by battle, and that includes the siege of Vicksburg of which they were a part. But that is not how my g-g-grandfather died. Here is the account taken from HISTORY of the Thirty-Third Regiment Illinois Veteran Volunteer Infantry IN THE CIVIL WAR: 22nd AUGUST, 1861. to 7th DECEMBER, 1865 by GENERAL ISAAC H. ELLIOTT, published in 1902. –


After staying at Brashear and along the railroad for nine months and thirteen days, we received the welcome order to join the expedition to operate against Mobile, and on the morning of Thursday, March 2nd, 1865, the companies were picked up at the several sta-tions, beginning at Bayou Boeuf. I was in command of the regiment, Col. Lippincott being absent. The train was a mixed one of flat and box ears, carrying all our baggage and horses. Many of the men were on top of the box ears. After Company B had been taken on at LaFourche and Des Allemandes there was only left Company H at Boutee, some seven or eight miles distant.

We were now considerably behind time, and the train from New Orleans was nearly due at Boutee. I inquired of the conductor if he could make that station before the other train was due to leave it. He replied that he could, and we went ahead at quite a high rate of speed. I had some anxiety about meeting the train from New Orleans, and was leaning from the door of the baggage car near the rear of the train looking forward. Suddenly I saw a horse running close alongside the track, and then dart in front of the engine. Instantly the second car from the tender left the track and was thrown broadside around, and those behind it crashed into it and each other cars were crushed to fragments, and the rails of the track torn up and driven through them. The whole train, except a few cars at the rear, filled and covered with men, was a horrible wreck.

The men had been in a very gale of joy, singing and shouting at the happy release from the pestilential swamps. Now they were to see a more active life and be able to do something to bring the war to an end and go home. In an instant the happy shouting was changed to cries and shrieks for help from beneath the shattered cars. Every effort was made to release the wounded and imprisoned men, each company working frantically to help its own members; and how they did work! Perhaps not always to the best advantage, but with a frenzy that told of the affection they had for their suffering comrades.

It was a horrible scene, worse than any battle, and with none of its honors. Company A, being near the head of the train, suffered the most. Brave, splendid 1st Sergeant Spillman F. Willis, who carried the flag at Vicksburg, and who was loved not only by his company, but the entire regiment, was ground to dust;

Howell, Greening, Walker and Wolf, of A, were killed. Melvin, Walden and Webster, of H, and Barkley of G, were killed; seventy-two of the regiment were wounded, some of them soon died. One young soldier of Co. D had both feet cut off, and I believe is still living at Springfield, Illinois.

There was one spectacle in all this terrible scene that could not but be admired. I know that all members of – the 33rd will remember my own horse with a white mane and tail. No finer styled horse ever wore a bridle. The flat ear he was on was shoved up on the one in front of it, and he stood there quietly and unhurt, high above the wreck. No finer equestrian statue was ever looked at.

It was a forlorn and badly broken up regiment that went into Algiers that night. The wounded were taken to the hospitals in New Orleans, and the regiment across the river and quartered in a cotton press. . . .


Captain Harvey J DuttonHere is a second accounting, same source, but this time the author is Harvey Dutton, Henry’s brother-in-law –

The winter of 1864-65 passed with no other incidents of special moment that I remember, except the accession to the company of the following recruits: Charles Greening, Alphonso K. Smith, Henry W. Smith, Henry M. Walker, Jerome Wolf, Hans Erickson and William J. Hester. All but the last two were from Metamora, ILL., my home. H. M. Walker was my brother-in-law, the others acquaintances. They had enlisted January 10th, ’65, for one year, and had chosen Company A because I was Captain. February 23, 1865, Lieut. Fyffe was sent to Thibodeaux, La., division headquarters, on detached service as Judge Advocate.

Then came the railroad disaster of March 2nd, 1865. As we loaded our effects into that box car, and ourselves into and on top of it, that pleasant spring morning, there was some grumbling about the gorgeous accommodations “Uncle Sam” saw fit to furnish us; still the boys were in good spirits, believing we were to take part in the closing campaign of the war. The make-up of the train brought Company A near the engine, the place of greatest danger in case of accident. They were in the third car; the first was an empty, the second was occupied by B Company. For fear of repetition (as the whole regiment except Company H was concerned in this horrible affair) I will only insert here remarks from the first “muster roll” of Company A made after the occurrence: “March 2nd, 1865, started at 8:80 a.m. by railroad for Algiers, La.; near Boutee Station met with serious disaster; train thrown from the track by running over a horse; five of the company killed ; twenty-one wounded seriously, were sent to the hospital; several others were more or less injured; lost a large quantity of camp and garrison equipage and ordinance stores; arrived at Algiers about seven in the evening; crossed the river at New Orleans and camped in the Anchor Cotton Press. The killed were:

1st Sergt. Spillman F. Willis, Vet.; Private, Chas. G. Howell, Vet.; Private Chas. Greening, Private H. M. Walker, and Private Jerome Wolf.”

A peculiarly distressing feature of this affair to me was not only that Company A had lost its noble, brave and efficient Orderly Sergeant, and another veteran of three and a half years of faithful service, but that of the five new men from my home, as before mentioned, three of them, one my brother-in-law, now lay dead. Upon me devolved the painful duty of sending the unwelcome tidings to loved ones so sadly bereft. Those seriously injured and discharged on account of such injuries were Sergt. S. W. Durrlinger, and Privates W. H. Foster, Harvey D. Garrett and David Shaw. . . .

Thank you Kevin for sharing your Civil War ancestor’s story here today. It’s powerful and one I won’t soon forget.

Additional posts about Kevin’s Civil War ancestors can be found on his blog. Click “Civil War” in the list of labels in the right hand column. Walker examines the effect that Henry, Sr.’s death had on his family. Census rolls show the family was completely broken up, his wife and his three children each went to live with a different relative. Henry, Sr.’s widow married again but to a drunk and physically abusive man whom she quickly divorced nine months later. She would marry again. Henry, Jr. was less than a year old when his father died, and we know already of some of the trouble he got into (shooting his wife three times and going to prison). His older sister Letta married a man almost thirty years her senior! But all in all a case study for how broken homes can lead to broken lives.

You can learn more about Kevin and his family research at Who We Were, Are & Will Be Our Family.



Civil War Saturday – How my Scottish-Canadian great-great-grandfather was captured during the US Civil War

This week’s Civil War soldier’s story comes from Gail Dever. Gail is a Montreal-based genealogy news blogger on Genealogy à la carte where she writes daily about family history resources and issues facing the genealogy community. She also manages the website for the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa. Gail has yet to find a photo of her great-great-grandfather James Young in his Civil War uniform, but she continues to look.

James Young

James Young, 1st Regiment, Prince of Wales Rifles of Montreal, Volunteer Militia, ca. 1862.

More than 40 years after the American Civil War ended, my great-great-grandfather James “Jimmy” Young wrote a memoir about his experience with the 6th Connecticut Volunteers, Company K, and the months he endured in Andersonville prison. Originally from Aberdeen, Scotland, Jimmy was 14 years old when he immigrated to Montreal with his parents Robert Young and Mary Fyvie and nine brothers and sisters in 1855.

By the time Jimmy decided to join the Union army in Connecticut, it was August 1863. A few weeks earlier, the Confederates had been defeated at the Battle Gettysburg and the tide of war had turned against the them. Jimmy was 24 years old, an unmarried brass finisher, and had been living in cramped housing in Montreal with his parents and most of his brothers and sisters. Like many young men in the city, he had served with the Volunteer Militia.

Jimmy replaced a conscripted man from New York, who likely paid him between $400 and $1,000. According to his obituary, Jimmy enlisted because he had been “fired with enthusiasm for the Northern cause and ready for the great adventure of life.” In reality, it was probably a combination of adventure, beliefs, and money that helped him decide to sign up.

Within a few months, Jimmy was doing duty at Port Royal in Hilton Head, South Carolina. In April 1864, his regiment was ordered to join the Army of the James under the command of Major General Benjamin Butler, who had received orders from Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant to attack west and cut Richmond, Virginia’s supply lines from the south.

March toward Richmond

By early May, tension had risen on both sides of the Civil War. Grant had been moving his army of 120,000 that included the 6th Connecticut Volunteers to face Confederate Robert E. Lee’s army that numbered 64,000. Soon after the Sixth and others landed at the town of Bermuda Hundred on the James River, they started their march toward Richmond. As part of Grant’s plan, they cut telegraph wires and ripped up the track of the Petersburg and Richmond Railroad, burning the ties and poles.

Less than a week later, on May 14, the Sixth was ordered to advance to Proctor’s Creek, near Drewry’s Bluff, south of Richmond. When they were unable to move any further, they stayed near the edge of a piece of woods where they could hear the enemy a short distance away. At this point, the war took an unfortunate turn for Jimmy.

Instant death”

During the evening of May 15, while Jimmy was manning a post, Captain Osborne of Company K crept along the ground to order him to change posts. The new post was in full view of the Confederate army. Jimmy told his captain it would be “instant death” for anyone who attempted to reach it. “Well, Cap, I don’t want to disobey orders, but if you will allow me to choose my own men, I will fill the position.” Osborne agreed, and Jimmy took two “tried veterans,” with him, William Gladstone and James Hine.

The three men made a bold dash for their new post. When they reached the post, Jimmy considered they were lucky to still be alive and uninjured. “The Johnnies were so intent firing into the woods where our boys were settling themselves for the night, that they overlooked us.”

The men discovered their post was not much more than a hole in the ground on a slight brow of a hill, built up by a little mound of earth with two rails placed in front. Through the night, they kept watch, staying low to the ground, hidden only by the darkness. Thinking back on the night, Jimmy wrote, “If they had had the slightest idea that we were in such close proximity to them, they would have lowered the muzzle of that gun and scooped us clean out of the ground.” At regular intervals, they heard the enemy fire shot after shot in their direction with many of the shots going close to their heads.

After several hours, three men from the 7th Connecticut Volunteers tried to crawl across the field to relieve them, but a volley of shots forced them to scamper back. Jimmy, Gladstone, and Hine were left on their own.

The attack

Just before sunrise, a thick fog covered the battleground. The rebels gathered their forces and charged upon them, shouting with that “peculiar yell so characteristic of the Johnnies.”

Jimmy wrote, “They were on us before they knew we were in front of them, and when we sprang to our feet I suppose they thought we came out of the ground.”

Because of the sheer number of Confederates attacking them, Jimmy, Gladstone, and Hine surrendered.


By noon that day, May 16, the war was over for Jimmy. The Confederates transported Glandstone, Hine, and him along with other prisoners down the James River to Richmond where they were marched to Libby prison.

Libby Prison

Libby Prison, Richmond, Virginia, August 23, 1863, A. Hoen & Co. Library of Congress.

Many thanks to Gail for sharing her Civil War ancestor’s story here today. Jimmy’s experience as a POW will continue with next week’s Civil War Saturday. See you then!

You can learn more about Gail Dever at:

Blog –

Twitter – @geneaalacarte

Genealogy à la carte Facebook group –

Genealogy à la carte on Pinterest –


Sources — Books

Cadwell, Charles K. The Old Sixth Regiment, Its War Record, 1861-5. New Haven, Connecticut: 1875. Reprint, Salem, Massachusetts: Higginson Book Company, 1998. (Online version available through Internet Archive: <>.)

Macdonald, John. The Historical Atlas of the Civil War. New York, New York: Cartwell Books, 2009.

Young, James. Reminiscences of the Prison Life of James Young. ca. 1920.

Sources — Newspaper

James Young dies, aged eight-four, Montreal (Quebec) Daily Star, 5 September 1923, page 2.

Sources — Online

National Park Service, Washington, D.C. 6th Regiment, Connecticut Infantry, Union Connecticut Volunteers, Regiment Details, Civil War. Online < >.

Sources — Photographs

Young, James. Portrait, c. 1861, Montreal, Quebec. Photographer unknown.

Libby Prison. The only picture in existence. As it appeared August 23, 1863. Prints & Photographs Online Collection, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Online < >.

Copyright © 2014, Gail Dever.


A Soldier’s Story: Francis O. Cheney of Co. B, 192nd Ohio Volunteer Infantry on this Civil War Saturday

On this Civil War Saturday our guest contributor is Deborah A. Carder Mayes. Debbie is a genealogist, writer and speaker. She’s sharing her Civil War ancestor, her great grandfather Francis O. Cheney with us today. There’s more info about Debbie at the end of this post but first let’s learn this Civil War soldier’s story.

**Several years ago, I joined the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War. Any woman whose direct ancestor served in the Union forces during the Civil War is eligible to join. Joining DUVCW is a great way to honor your ancestor and assure that he is not forgotten.

Most of the able-bodied men in my family living during that time served. Here is a little info on my great grandfather, Francis Owen Cheney, who is the ancestor I honored by joining DUVCW.

Civil War Saturday - Francis O. Cheney

Francis O. Cheney

Francis Owen Cheney was born on October 25, 1847 in McLean County, Illinois. His great uncle, Jonathan Cheney was the founder of the town, Cheney’s Grove in McLean County. Many of the Cheney family, including William and Rebecca (Love) Cheney followed Jonathan to Illinois. Three of their eight children were born there before they made their way back to Ohio where they remained for the rest of their lives.

On May 20, 1869, Francis, who was known as Frank, married Martha Jane Uncapher in Marion County, Ohio. She went by her middle name, Jane. She was the daughter of John M. Uncapher and Barbara A. Rimmel and was born on February 2, 1851 in Indiana County, Pennsylvania. Her family was Pennsylvania Dutch and she spoke their German dialect fluently.

Francis and Jane had nine children, Una Belle, Elizabeth Etta, Hillis Ray, Emma O., Silas, Haymond William, Elmer Albertus and Francis Elzie, who were twins, and my grandfather, Earl J. Cheney.

After the war, Francis lived most of his life in Allen County, Ohio but he lived in Marion County, Ohio for about two years and in Morgan, Cooper, Lafayette, and Benton Counties in Missouri for four years. Francis and Jane lived in Missouri shortly after they married. They probably went there because land was cheap. Either they were homesick or they did not prosper in Missouri because they returned to Ohio by 1872 where they moved to Allen County and remained.

While on duty at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, in March, 1865, Francis, a private in Co. B, 192nd O. V. I., was disabled by disease of the lungs, heart, fever, and pleurisy and treated at the hospital in Harper’s Ferry. He was discharged at Winchester, Virginia on September 21, 1865.

In 1891, he was a resident of Allentown, German Township, Allen County, Ohio. He was 5′ 9″ and had a fair complexion, light hair, and hazel eyes. He weighed 145 pounds. In 1899, when he was a resident of Shawnee Township, Allen County, Ohio, he was 5’7″. He applied for a veteran’s pension and received $8 a month. He was still a resident of Shawnee Township in 1902 and remained there until his death. In 1912, his pension was raised to $13.50.

Pvt. Francis O. Cheney Shawnee Cemetery, Allen County, Ohio

Pvt. Francis O. Cheney Shawnee Cemetery, Allen County, Ohio

Francis died on November 20, 1912. After his death, Jane moved into the home of her son, Francis Elzie Cheney, in Lima, Ohio. She died on November 27, 1931. Francis and Jane are buried together, a few feet away from his parents, in Shawnee Cemetery, Allen County, Ohio.

You can read learn more about Debbie, her writing and programs on her site:
Rambling Along the Ancestral Trail – Deborah A. Carder Mayes Genealogy & Family History.( Debbie’s passion for genealogy began over seventeen years ago when she started exploring her family history. She soon became active in her local genealogical community.

In 2001 as a library volunteer, Debbie began helping others with their own family research. She began presenting lectures and workshops in 2004 and researching for clients in 2008. Currently, Debbie is a writer for the In-Depth Genealogist magazine, and their blog Going In-Depth. She also writes for her own genealogical blog, and is writing a book on her father’s family history.

**This post, Military Monday-Francis Owen Cheney, can be found on Debbie’s blog under the category, Ohio Civil War Ancestors and was posted on April 7, 2013.

Would You Help Me With A New Project Here On Genealogy Circle?

Will you help me with something new at Genealogy Circle?

Civil War, 4th OVC, Jacob Seib, genealogy research

Civil War Reenactors – Photo Credit: Cindy Freed

Hey friends! Time for another Civil War Saturday! Usually you’ll find a post here about a particular event during the Civil War or the life of a soldier on Civil War Saturday. You’ve learned about men who fought with the 81st Pennsylvania, the 4th Ohio Volunteer Cavalry and the 42nd Virginia Infantry.

You know I feel very strongly about that. I think we need to share the lives of veteran Civil War soldiers. As the years creep by and the Civil War becomes “ancient history” our veteran ancestors’ stories get lost. They’re not handed down through the generations like they once were.

Let’s remedy that together! I would like to post the story of your Civil War ancestor here on Genealogy Circle. Every couple of Saturdays I’ll publish the story of Civil War veterans, Confederate or Union. I’ll need you to write up an article about the life of your veteran ancestor. It can be 300, 400, 500 words and if you have photos to include, all the better!

In this way your ancestor will have another chance to be remembered. That’s my ultimate goal to honor their memory but who knows what distant cousin may contact you because they recognize the name of their Civil War ancestor in a post on Civil War Saturday.

We’ll also get the chance, I hope, to read the stories about men who may have served in the same company, regiment or brigade our ancestor served in. I myself would dearly love to connect with the descendent of a soldier who fought with Co. A 81st Pennsylvania. That’s the regiment my great great grandfather served with.

So please send me your Civil War veteran’s story. You can email me at cindy at genealogy circle dot com or look me up on Facebook at Genealogy Circle. I’m also on Twitter @GenealogyCircle and on Google+ just look up Cindy Freed to contact me.

Let’s tell the stories of our Civil War ancestors. Let’s remember them, honor them and maybe learn about some of the men they served with.

I’m looking forward to hearing from you! Please contact me today!